General Article What digital gambling is doing to Britain

Topic Selected: Gambling
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The UK’s 33,000 fixed-odds betting terminals each take almost £1,000 of punters’ money per week. Welcome to 21st-century gambling...

 

 

Green Street, east London. I’m watching other people gamble at 10am on a Monday morning in a Ladbrokes betting shop. Virtual sports unfold on several screens: computer-generated horse and dog races, names every bit as daft as their flesh-and-blood counterparts (Boozy Beez, Gummy Bear, Mad Murphy).

But the real action is at the side of the shop where men hunch over the huge electronic machines: the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Here, on virtual roulette games, vast amounts of people’s money disappear every day. Each machine eats almost £1,000 a week.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, a 23-year-old from Essex, shows me how they work. Unlike the old fruit machines, there is no £2 cap

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